Serve and Project

Big on features and small in size, the latest portable projectors are at every mobile warrior's beck and call.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the February 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you need to be heard, you project your voice. Same with images. When you need to be seen, you turn to a projector. When you need to be seen no matter where you go, you turn to a portable projector. Every projector in our chart comes in under 7 pounds, with most under 3. You can shuffle one of these from room to room, around the office or take it on the red-eye to New York for a sales presentation.

There are two main types of projectors: digital light processing (DLP) and liquid-crystal display (LCD). Weight seems to be the determining factor. Just about all sub-3-pound projectors use DLP. Two of the heaviest projectors in our chart, the Epson PowerLite 30c and Sony VPL-CS5, weigh about 6 pounds and use LCD innards. LCDs tend to have richer colors than DLPs. Your best bet is to visit a local retailer and ask to see them in action side by side.

There are trade-offs for super light weight. Features like zoom factor and built-in audio are usually the first to go. Lack of zoom means you'll have to physically move the projector around to achieve a good-sized image. In a related feature, keystone correction like that featured on the Epson will take care of distorted images that occur when the projector is at an angle to the screen or wall.

Your need for audio will depend on the type of presentations you'll be giving. The HP digital projector sb21, for example, has no audio built in and weighs a feathery 2.2 pounds. The InFocus LP70 has a built-in speaker as well as zoom and a wireless remote, but you'll pay extra for these premium conveniences in a 2.4-pound package. Check the specifications carefully before you buy anything to see just what you can live without or what you absolutely have to have.

Brightness is another important factor. This will help determine the size of the room and the light levels a projector can handle. The spec to look for is ANSI lumens. ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, while lumens measures brightness. The more lumens, the brighter the images; 800 to 1,100 lumens is a standard range for portable projectors. At 800 lumens, for example, the HP sb21 will do well in small conference rooms, though you may want to dim the lights for the crispest picture. The two brightest devices in our chart are the InFocus LP70 with 1,100 lumens and the Sharp PG-M25X with 1,900 lumens. Consider one of these for large rooms or situations where you can't have the lights out.

The future for projectors is bright. Wireless capabilities will be the hottest innovation to hit the market in some time. We're not just talking about remote controls, either. 802.11 Wi-Fi, the same technology that is powering so many wireless office networks, has arrived on the scene. This opens up possibilities for using a Wi-Fi-equipped handheld for your presentation instead of hauling around a laptop.

The Sharp PG-M25X ($3,499 to $4,195 street, depending on reseller) comes equipped with the popular 802.11b technology. At 5.8 pounds, it's on the heavier end of the portable weight scale, but also packs a lot of features. You probably won't want to haul it around every airport in the nation, but it could easily float around your office and make the occasional foray out on the road. Consider your presentation needs, and don't be afraid to compare projectors side by side before you buy. Choose wisely, and you'll have yourself a business-smart traveling companion.

Shopping List
In the dark about projectors? These portables have a bright future helping your presentations leave a strong impression.

(800) 442-1977
6.4 lbs800 ansi lumensSVGA native resolution, lcd technology, keystone correction$1,299
(800) 752-0900
2.2 lbs800 ansi lumensSVGA native resolution, wireless remote control, no audio$1,999
(800) 294-6400
2.4 lbs1,100 ansi lumensxga native resolution, built-in speaker, 2-year warranty$3,199
(800) nec-info
5.6 lbs1,000 ansi lumensSVGA native resolution, 2-year warranty$1,549
(800) be-sharp
5.8 lbs1,900 ansi lumensxga native resolution, integrated 802.11b wi-fi$3,499 to $4,195
(800) 686-sony
5 lbs 5 oz1,800 ansi lumensSVGA native resolution, automatic keystone correction$2,499

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